More power is something the Texas Rangers wanted to add this off-season, and they found it in Prince Fielder.
The Rangers and Tigers announced a blockbuster trade of All-Stars on Wednesday night that brings Fielder to Texas and sends Ian Kinsler to Detroit. The Rangers also will receive $30 million from the Tigers with payments beginning in 2016.
The deal came together relatively quickly, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said, as Tigers general manager Dave Dombroski initiated talks with Daniels on Tuesday morning. Each side had an interest in getting the deal done.
The Rangers had a logjam in the middle of the infield, and this clears an everyday job for Jurickson Profar at second base. And the Tigers now have the ability to move MVP-winner Miguel Cabrera back to first base.
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The accelerated process also was helped by the Rangers’ interest in Fielder two years ago before Fielder signed a nine-year, $214 million deal with the Tigers.
“Obviously a very exciting trade for us, adding Prince Fielder to the organization,” Daniels said. “Also a tough trade to make. Ian Kinsler has been with the organization since ’03 and was a huge part of [our success]. Detroit got a tremendous player and person.
“Hopefully this is a win-win baseball trade for both sides.”
Fielder has seven years and $168 million left on his deal as he’s owed $24 million annually the next seven seasons. Kinsler has a guaranteed four years and $62 million left on his contract.
For the Rangers, it helps fill a need to add more power in the middle of the lineup. They struggled in that department last season, especially down the stretch when Nelson Cruz accepted a 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs.
Fielder brings an immediate presence to the lineup. He has at least 100 RBIs in six of the past seven seasons and had a stretch of six consecutive seasons with at least 30 home runs from 2007-12.
Fielder, though, is coming off a down year. He batted .279 with 25 home runs and a career-low .457 slugging percentage. He followed that up with a .225 average with no home runs or RBIs in 11 postseason games for the Tigers last month.
Daniels and his staff don’t believe that is a sign of things to come, however, citing Fielder’s age — he turns 30 in May — and his bat speed not dropping off.
“He gives us exactly what we’re looking for,” Daniels said. “He’s a very good complement to Adrian Beltre and a great presence in the middle of the order.”
Rangers manager Ron Washington agreed and said he expects Beltre to remain in the cleanup spot with Fielder batting third.
With Fielder serving as the everyday first baseman, Mitch Moreland’s future role is unknown. Daniels was adamant that the team wasn’t going to give up on Moreland, suggesting he still could bring value as a backup first baseman, a designated hitter and possibly an outfielder.
Daniels also made it clear that the Rangers aren’t done looking in their search for more offense. The team could use another bat or two, and left field and catcher are the two most likely positions the Rangers would look to upgrade. Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury are among the free-agent outfielders, and Brian McCann is the top catcher on the market.
“We’d still like to add to the offense,” Daniels said. “That’s probably still our top goal, top objective, but we’re open to any way we can improve the team.”